How To Integrate Messaging Apps Into Your Social Media Strategy.

Social messaging is instant messaging or chat applications created around social networks for communication on mobile phones with less limits and more features than traditional texting. They use the app’s interface and the internet to send messages rather than SMS service. Messaging apps are popular and have grown to over 5 billion monthly active users worldwide. Top apps pull in over one billion each such as WeChat (1.2 billion) and Facebook Messenger (1.2 billion), Kik (300 million), Viber (236 million), and Line (217 million).

Messaging use is increasing among all groups.

A Nielson Messenger survey found various generations are using messaging from Millennials (65%) and Gen Xers (65%) to Boomers (63%) and say that messaging improves their lives and their relationships by making communication simpler (69%), more ongoing (65%), easier for groups (65%), and more frequent (63%). People are using messaging to stay up to date with friends and family (59%) and to extend their networks (54%). Over the next two years they expect to use messaging apps more for communicating one-to-one (50%), with groups (60%), and, the most increase, with businesses (67%). In fact, 53% said they would be more likely to shop with a business they could message directly.

People like social messaging for features such as text chats, group chats and notifications, but also social features like status updates, media sharing and stickers. With advanced features they can chat with friends, obtain customer service, make calls, play games, access content, and buy products. Messaging apps also let businesses use chatbots to for customer service, sending content to users, selling products and services and purchase advertising.

The most popular messaging apps vary by region. According to SimilarWeb, WhatsApp is the dominate messaging app across most of the world. Facebook Messenger has supplanted it as number one in countries like the US, Canada, Australia and select Western European countries. WeChat is dominant in China and smaller messaging apps are most popular in other regions like Line in Asian Pacific countries and Viber in Eastern European countries. The messaging app Kik is unique in that it is most popular among a demographic – younger users age 13 to 23. Another messaging app consideration for B2B is Slack, which is a main internal communications tool for many companies.

How to integrated messaging into marketing communications.

As with other social media platforms business and organizations should consider adding messenger apps to their marketing, advertising and public relations strategies because their customers are increasingly using them and are beginning to expect brands to be there as well. Messaging apps can provide access to direct sales, customer service and to extend the reach of brand content distribution in an area known as dark social, the —84 percent of online sharing through private channels without a referral source. Thus, it isn’t tracked as social shares or referral traffic.

Broadly there are three ways brands can interact with consumers via messaging apps. Content marketing in messaging apps can do more than share with engaging ways to tell stories, demonstrate products, create engaging quizzes, trivia and games. Special offers, sales, promotions and even direct sales can occur in messaging apps unlike social networks. Also, the real-time nature and privacy of conversations makes messaging an ideal environment deliver customer service.

Much of these attractive features are enabled by chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation for customer service or information acquisition and distribution. Chatbots can be used for customer service, but can also be used to make brand content fun and engaging. One of the best ways to fully understand the possibilities of using messaging apps for social strategy is to see what brands have done on various messaging platforms.

Some examples of brands leveraging messaging.

The NBA increased basketball fan engagement during the NBA Finals and the NBA Draft. NBA’s bot on Facebook Messenger provided fans with instant access to highlights resulting in over 350k interactions. Teen celebrity magazine J-14 used two bots to deliver content and customized quizzes on the messaging app Kik to build up a young consumer subscriber list of 500,000. Miller Lite created a football game day collection of branded digital stickers used in Kik and Viber. The campaign led to over 600,000 downloads and millions of sends.

The British fashion brand Burberry took a different approach reaching consumers in China with a culturally relevant campaign via WeChat. During the Chinese New Year Burberry sent users an image of a letter with a pink bow and told them to “Shake” to open the gift and send a personalized Burberry greeting to a friend and celebrate Lunar New Year. Users could shop their New Year collection within Burberry’s WeChat store and sign up to win limited edition Lunar New Year envelopes to be picked up in-store.

Two food brands have created messaging strategies to help consumers make meals built around their brand’s as ingredients. Hellman’s mayonnaise created the “whatscook” WhatsApp campaign in South America where by entering numbers on the website chefs would contact consumers in WhatsApp offering live cooking advice. Based on a picture of ingredients chefs provided recipes teaching users to cook with pictures and even videos. Average interactions were an amazing 65 minutes and the effort reach 5.5 million people. Knorr foods created a chatbot, Auntie, to answer the question “What’s for dinner?” for moms in Thailand using Line. Auntie provided personalized recipes for great family meals which were viewed over 1.6 million times resulting in an increase in Knorr stock cube consumption by 50%.

Macy’s has partnered with Viber to offer in-chat shopping where users can search and share Macy’s products in the messenger app. While purchases happen via a link, the messaging platform is working on full in-app ecommerce features for the future. Adidas has used WhatsApp to build hyper local brand communities in cities across the world. The brand has found messaging to be a great tool for fan engagement offering members first notice of news releases, invites to events and access to Adidas’ ambassadors. Finally, cosmetics brand Sephora has found a way to simplify their scheduling process in Facebook Messenger. Their reservation assistant makes it easy for users to book makeovers and that has helped increase in-store sales.

Messaging social media advertising options.

Like many other social platforms, social messaging apps have also moved to paid social with native advertising options. Facebook Messenger offers sponsored messages, Kik offers promoted chats and Viber offers sponsored content. Line sells in app ads and WeChat offers Moment ads. WhatsApp is still holding out and has not offered native advertising options for businesses and organizations.

Has your brand considered using social messaging apps? In what ways could your target consumers benefit from increased engagement in these platforms?

For the latest changes in social media strategy consider Asking These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Social Media Strategy and its a good idea to Perform A Social Media Audit at least once a year.

A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing

What I have noticed recently in the marketing press is we hardly ever mention texting anymore. A lot of people are jumping on the marketing App bandwagon the way QR Tags were all the rage a couple of years ago, but many have seemed to skip over texting. The latest 2012 Pew Internet Research indicates that 79% of cell phone owners say they use text messaging while smartphone usage is still only around 45%, and of those smartphone users only 27% report having scanned a QR Code.  In fact, B.L. Ochman of Ad Age recently said “QR codes are dead.” It seems texting has been really underused or at least “under-talked” about by marketers.

The latest Neilson U.S. Digital Consumer Report shows that behind Apps, the second most used function of mobile phones is text messaging. Another good point about text messaging is that you can use them in mediums where QR codes are not possible, such as radio. With a QR tag you need something visual. I actually saw a 30 second TV commercial flash a QR tag for two seconds on the end. What are the chances of that being used?

Instead they could have used an easy to remember text code that someone could punch in without pausing the TV or getting up from the couch! Ads can request users text a code to a number, such as “text JOIN to 99999” to opt-in to a campaign or get an offer. Text codes can be included in just about any marketing medium, from direct mail to email to landing pages. Once someone responds you have their number and can sending messages back. At a concert I texted to win a seat on the stage. I didn’t win the seat, but the band still texts me updates on album releases and concert dates based on my opt-in.

After reporting that 98% of SMS messages sent are opened, and 83% of them are opened within 3 minutes, Corey Eridon from Hubspot gives us some advice on how to conduct a SMS text message campaign:

1. Fundraising and Raising Awareness:

‘The Cove’ case study from Msgme talks about how the documentary film had a “digital social action” campaign to reach other socially conscious people, get them to join a mobile subscriber list by texting a short code, sign a petition, and continue to receive updates about the cause. It engaged viewers at their highest moment of inspiration – the closing credits of the movie.

2. Communicating With Your Most Active Customers:

Zpizza used SMS to identify and reward loyal customers for repeat business by using SMS to make registration quick and easy. Customers texted a keyword that entered them into a contest, and received a follow-up email prompting to join the customer loyalty program.

3. Sending Service Alerts and Reminders:

Mobil1 Lube Express’ SMS campaign to remind customers about regular service and communicate promotions was more effective than email and direct mail. “The read-rate for direct mail is poor. Open rates for email are hindered by spam-combat software and other bounce problems. SMS is virtually a spam-free channel that goes wherever the customer goes.” – Bob Jump, president, Digital Rocket.

4. Driving New Sales:

Through an SMS initiative, regional Ace Hardware users were encouraged to opt-in to receive weather-related mobile notifications based on their ZIP code. Ace integrated the campaign with the National Weather Service to provide timely, location-based weather notifications that included promotions that drove in-store traffic and sales.

But I will close on this caution: EVERY consumer must provide an EXPLICIT opt-in using a cell phone or another approved way of giving permission! Jiffy Lube was Sued for $47 Million, for reckless texting. I suggest you read this article in Chief Marketer about how you should handle SMS Opt-Ins – a lot of this is based on selecting the right experienced vendor. But I don’t want to end on a sour note. SMS Text Messaging can be a very effective marketing tool that doesn’t cost a lot. Big ideas and big results don’t need big budgets or big marketing hype. Have you considered text marketing?

As Smartphone Ownership Crosses 50% And Mobile Ad Spending Jumps 80% Keep 3 Key Measures In Mind

A new report by eMarketer estimates that U.S. Mobile-ad spending is projected to grow 80% this year, to $2.61 billion. What is driving this growth? The Pew Internet Project just released a report saying smartphone ownership has just crossed the 50% threshold to 53% of U.S. mobile consumers. And people are using those data plans. From 2010 to 2011 U.S. Smartphone data usage was up 89%.

As smartphone ownership increases more and more people are using their phones for search, web browsing and use of applications – that is where mobile marketing comes in. According to the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Mobile Marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network. The MMA says mobile now includes advertising and media, direct response, promotions, relationship management, CRM, customer services, loyalty and social marketing. It can also engage to start relationships, acquire, generate activity, stimulate social interaction with organizations and community members, [and] be present at time of consumers expressed need.

The old way of thinking about mobile media is mobile advertising where you bring old school Internet banners and TV ads to the tiny screens of mobile devices. The new way takes full advantage of the new technology capabilities of mobile. It makes marketing on a mobile device interactive. With this definition in mind some of the measures of effectiveness of the Internet are very applicable to mobile media. I believe that ease of use, perceived usefulness and speed of interactivity are all important factors in measuring the efficacy and effectiveness of mobile marketing interaction.

1. Ease of Use is an important factor in measuring its effectiveness whether you are making an iPhone app or a text message pizza ordering system. Is the organization and structure of the marketing app logical and easy to follow? Is the app name or text to address easy to remember? Are the terms and conditions of a promotion easy to understand? Is content concise and easy to understand? Is learning to use the system or app easy, clear and understandable?

2. Perceived Usefulness is another important measure in mobile. People will not download an app, pay attention to rich-media ads or watch a video if it is not perceived as useful to them. Is your mobile marketing going to improve their shopping experience (I.E. get coupons, information at the point of purchase)? Will it increase shopping productivity (I.E. book a flight while waiting in line)? Or will it increase shopping effectiveness (I.E. pick out movies before you get to Redbox)? The best mobile marketing are the ones build around a consumer’s needs.

3. Navigability is also an effective measure because of the new uses of mobile. If voting for your favorite American Idol contestant was hard to navigate less people would do it. Is the layout intuitive and is the order of information clear? By now everyone knows they need to develop mobile enabled websites that meet the navigation requirements of the small screen.

Search, display (which includes spending on banner and rich-media ads) and video are expected to grow their share this year at the expense of SMS, MMS and P2P messaging, which are expected to drop according to eMarketer’s estimates. Search is expected to take up 50% of spending next year followed by banners and rich media at 35%. Video and SMS/MMS/P2P finish out ad spending at 8% and 6% respectively. If you are diving deeper into mobile this year or next, keep the three key measures above in mind.